Dog behaviour expert Adam Beral, an animal care lecturer at New College Stamford, answers your questions about problem pooches. If you have a question for him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
I’VE had a rescue greyhound, Angel, for 18 months now. She is such a good dog and no trouble at all - apart from one thing! She still thinks my kitchen floor is a toilet, especially first thing in the morning. She goes through phases though and can go weeks without doing anything. I’ve tried several things to stop this but none has been successful - have you any advice please? Kind regards, Steve Allam, Stamford
House training is a commonly underestimated training task.
It is a very tricky concept for a dog to truly understand; often they make an incorrect association.
Sometimes we think that our dogs have completed their training when in fact it is no more than a good routine.
This becomes especially apparent in rescue dogs.
Training techniques for the older dog are pretty much the same as those used in puppy training.
However, even if older dogs are retrained to eliminate outdoors, indoor sites may continue to be used, since the odour and habit may continue to attract the dog back to that location.
The key to effective housetraining is constant supervision and, wherever possible, preventing access to indoor elimination sites.
Take your dog to an appropriate area at times when elimination is necessary.
Reinforce the behaviour you want with lavish praise or food rewards when the dog eliminates in the designated area.
If a word cue is used prior to each elimination-reward sequence, the dog may soon learn to eliminate on command.
I tend to use “hurry up” as a cue to get my dogs to go to the toilet, as it is a phrase I don’t mind saying when I’m in the park!
Whenever you are not available to supervise, the dog should be housed in a confinement area where it cannot eliminate (such as a crate).
Your dog should not be allowed access to indoor sites where it has previously eliminated unless you are there to supervise.
Access to these areas can be denied by closing doors or putting up baby gates.
Smells that might attract the pet back to the area can be reduced or removed with odour eliminators.
Better still, use biological washing powder dissolved in water to break down the urine and completely eliminate the smell.
Be certain to use a sufficient amount of the odour eliminator to reach everywhere that the urine has soaked.
It may also help to feed the dog from the cleaned area.
Feeding schedules can be changed to improve your control over the situation.
After your dog eats, she will usually need to eliminate within 15-30 minutes.
Likewise, get to know her pre-elimination signals, such as circling or sniffing and make sure you give her an opportunity to go out when she displays these signals.